Many thanks Stephen. Good afternoon and thank you for the warm welcome.
The Chamber has been an important part of the Australian business scene for 48 years now and it’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to address you today.
It comes at the end of a difficult two weeks for everyone involved in one of Australia’s worst natural disasters.
On Tuesday I visited some of our branches in the affected areas where our staff have been working with many of our customers who were directly impacted by the fires. I wanted to see first hand the work we were doing to help the residents. In all the sadness, it was wonderful to see the community spirit and hard work people are putting in to assist one another.
It was also uplifting to see the amazing contribution by the business community of Australia, not only helping through financial donations, but providing services, manpower, logistics, and resources directly to the point of need.
I know the thoughts of all of us here today are with everyone who suffered as a result of these terrible fires.
It’s a reflection of the close and enduring links between Australia and the United States that President Obama has offered his assistance and prayers for the victims.
Those links date back to the First Fleet and the three Americans who joined the voyage.
My favourite story involves Jacob Nagle.
Jacob had served with George Washington before he landed his First Fleet job on the Sirius.
Clearly he was an Australian at heart because on the way to Sydney he managed to get into serious trouble in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently the problem involved alcohol and women and Jacob woke up next morning minus his pants and his money.